By Mike Mejia, M.S., C.S.C.S
Muscles Trained: Chest, shoulders, triceps, serratus anterior and core
Importance to Swimmers: Besides strengthening some of the primary muscles used in swimming, the added movement at the top really targets the serratus anterior; a key muscle in helping maintain optimal shoulder joint health. Performing the exercise on the ball increases the demand on the core, as well as all of the muscles that help stabilize the shoulder, elbow and wrist.
Execution: Position your hands on top of a stability ball about shoulder's width apart, with your finger tips pointed slightly downward (note: trying to place hands in the typical push-up position, with fingers straight ahead, can be extremely uncomfortable to the wrists). Next, set your legs up behind you so that your knees are straight and you're balancing on the balls of your feet. From there, maintain a neutral spine posture as you bend your elbows and lower yourself towards the ball. Pause when your chest is just a few inches away from the ball and then press back up to the starting position. Finally, with your arms straight in the top position, continue pushing into the ball as you round your upper back slightly to target the serratus. Continue until you've performed 6-10 repetitions.
•You must make sure to maintain a neutral spine posture here and not allow your lower back and hips to "cave in" as you lower yourself towards the ball.
•Use a controlled speed and avoid bouncing, or jerking to get out of the bottom position of the push-up.
•Make sure your ball is properly inflated. A ball that doesn't have enough air in it can place extra strain on the wrists. A good rule of thumb is that when seated on the ball, your knees should form about a 90 degree angle.
•When performing the plus movement at the top of each rep, try to avoid elevating the hips. Simply try to separate your shoulder blades a little bit.
•Elevating your feet up on to a bench, or step will increase the difficulty level.